Rafael Ferro Salas
PINAR DEL RIO, Cuba - August (www.cubanet.org)
The majority of people were excited when
they heard the news. After many years this
city would have a civic plaza. Every province
in Cuba has one. Throughout the world civic
plazas are places where important events
take place and are celebrated. Political,
cultural and civic events occur there. In
time a plaza becomes a mirror of each town.
It's certain that many people were happy
when they saw the movement of construction
equipment on the selected site two kilometers
from the city. The Hermanos Cruz neighborhood
where I live was the designated district.
I recall it occurred to someone to bring
royal palms and arrange them as decorations.
They were huge palm trees dug up at the
roots from their original soil, which required
a hard and absurd move to plant them there.
At the end of the day, the plaza was another
deception for the inhabitants of Pinar del
Río. It was never finished and in
time it remained as a provisional plaza,
designated thus by the authorities.
From night to day it's become a patch of
ground of noise and street fights, a center
of alcoholic orgies, unlawful games and
all manner of disturbances of public order.
Many neighbors have chosen to move from
the zone. Face with a lack of motels, couples
of lovers desiring to have sex have become
accustomed to frequent the place and carry
our their carnal intentions while hidden
among the surrounding trees.
Street vendors and speculators immersed
in the black market offer their merchandise
there. Drugs are sold, there's sex for sale
and beverages of dubious brands. The dreamed
of plaza has become a den of iniquity of
the collective decrepitude.
It's the accursed patch of ground of the
community. Pedestrians avoid it. In the
air each night, accompanied by racket, the
murmur of revenge fights is breathed and
the slash of the knife or machete flutters,
ready to attack the chosen target.
What's never lacking is the presence of
the police in the provisional plaza. Every
day those in uniform show off their skill
for the clubbing and blows against those
involved in any altercation, sale or suspicious
business. Searches are now a routine thing.
When a musical group for dancing is presented
in the plaza, the neighbors breathe in a
portent of the racket and know they're condemned
to lose sleep until morning comes. Some
have decided to put up bars on their homes
to prevent greater harm.
It even appears the plaza wants to speak
to us when the afternoon arrives. Its two
sad and dying royal palms are the constant
warning of the announced curse.